- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about revenge?
Merriam-Webster defines revenge as: “to avenge (oneself or another) usually by retaliating in kind or degree.” Are we ever pure enough to punish another person this way? What does God say about returning evil for evil? 1 Thes 5:15, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” God asks us to love even those who curse us and hate us, Matt 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” He asks us to do this, so that the evil-doer can witness an example of the correct way to treat each other. Those who refuse to learn the lesson face a punishment of their own creation, Prov 25:21-22, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” The reward for our obedience is a relationship with God!
Rom 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” God asks us to leave vengeance to Him, Deut 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” He is the only one patient enough to give everyone the time they need to discover the truth of His love and He has told us what our response should be, 1 Sam 24:12, “The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”
The truth is only God has the authority to punish. He does, however, delegate some of that authority to those He allows to rule, 1 Pet 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” He does this because He knows many of us will not follow the path marked by His love, so He establishes rulers to protect us from those willing to harm others. If a ruler turns evil and puts our lives in danger, God leads or allows His people to flee. Moses mother saved him from Pharoah’s edict, Ex 1:22, “And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive”, years later Moses was led by God to take Israel out of Egypt, against the will of Pharoah, Ex 5:2, “And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go”, God told Abram to flee, Gen 12:1, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee”, God sent an angel to tell Jesus’ father to flee into Egypt, Matt 2:13, “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him”, David fled from Saul, 1 Sam 19:12, “So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.” God uses rulers to complete His plan for salvation and even evil rulers can provide a path that leads through the valley of death to a good result, Gen 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” God has turned the horrible atrocities of ISIS into a great rethinking in the Muslim community and a wave of former Muslims to Christianity, here is an article in the BCN explaining this exodus: ISIS CAUSES IRAQIS TO TURN TO CHRIST AT A "STUNNING PACE"
God’s motives alone are pure and the creation of His eternal family is His prime directive. Knowing this, He still found a way to have each of us decide our own eternal future. He gave us His Word and those who choose to ignore it will have decided their own fate, Jn 8:43, 47, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word…He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” He is giving us a lifetime to hear and understand it, Ps 145:8, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” And, He is showing this great patience in spite of our prayers for revenge, Rev 6:10, “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
God calls us to faith, not vengeance, Heb 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” and He wants us to accept His offer of an eternal life, Rev 2:11, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
Forgiveness is the way of our Lord and it leads us away from revenge toward His love and His peace, Lk 6:37, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
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